Ancient Anglican – Reflection for 24 JUN 2018
Last week we looked at the Biblical foundation of our faith as we began a series of reflections considering how we might describe the Anglican tradition as:
“A Biblical faith, rooted in ancient tradition, relevant for the questions and challenges of today, and with a bright hope for the future.”
This week we will explore the ancient roots of our faith. Our faith heritage goes back even before the Incarnation of Christ. The Biblical foundations of our faith include the Hebrew Scripture and go back to the very beginning when God created heaven and earth. We affirm the roots of our faith in the creation of the world as we recite the historic creeds of the Church within our corporate worship, the Nicene Creed as we celebrate the Eucharist and the Apostle’s Creed in the Daily Office. These creeds root our faith in the foundations of Christianity as the Apostle’s Creed dates back to the earliest days of the Church as the foundational set of beliefs for Baptism and the Nicene Creed represents the basic beliefs which have bound the Church together since the 4th Century AD. This creed defines the Church as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. We celebrate and maintain our connection with the Apostolic church through our continuance of the three orders of bishop, priest, and deacon within the church. In the laying on of hands by bishops, we maintain the Apostolic succession of these orders.
Our liturgy also recalls our ancient heritage in celebrating the sacraments ordained by Christ in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Our liturgy preserves the words of institution in the Eucharist as given by Christ and prescribed for the Church by St. Paul in his instructions to the church in Corinth (1 Cor 11:23-26). In doing so, we indeed join our voices with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven in the eternal liturgy of praise and thanksgiving.
Distinctive to the Anglican tradition is the manner by which we bring the ancient roots into the contemporary practice of the parish. Prior to the English Reformation of the 16th Century, the Eucharist was celebrated in a language that was largely unknown to the people and the daily prayers were recited in monasteries and not parish churches. The great beauty of Cranmer’s Prayer Book was the translation of the Eucharistic celebration into the common language of the people and the consolidation of the monastic hours of prayer into the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer. We begin to see the way that the ancient roots of our Biblical faith are brought to bear on the daily challenges and concerns of everyday people in our Anglican heritage.